Current Events

September 01, 1993 4 min read

Crime Does Pay

In July, Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. filed suit to prevent Ronald Price, a former high school teacher in the state, from gaining financially by selling the story of his sexual involvement with several students. Curran, who read that Price was peddling his “life story” for a movie, invoked for the first time a state law barring individuals charged with or convicted of a crime from profiting from that crime. In August, an Anne Arundel County judge rejected Curran’s argument, declaring that the law is legally “unenforceable.” Judge Eugene Lerner wrote that the statute is “unconstitutionally overinclusive on its face and violates provisions of the First Amendment.” Curran immediately appealed the decision. Price has admitted that he had sex with seven Pasadena, Md., students but contends the misconduct was the result of mental illness.

Gay Awareness

Beginning this fall, teachers in more than one-third of Massachusetts’ 300 public high schools will receive state-sponsored training on how to address the needs of gay and lesbian students. The schools volunteered for the training, according to David LaFontaine, chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth. This past March, the commission released a report that declared secondary schools an “unsafe climate” for homosexuals. Then, in May, the state board of education became the first in the nation to recommend that schools adopt guidelines to protect gay students. Among other things, the training sessions will teach school employees strategies for preventing violence and harassment against homosexual students.

Lettering In Art

Hoping to give budding artists the same status as athletes, educators at Waterford (Conn.) High School have begun awarding comprehensive letters to students who demonstrate achievement in the arts. In June, the school awarded coveted blue woolen “Ws” for the first time to 11 students for their achievements in art, music, drama, and dance. The change, school officials say, was “long overdue.”

A Long Wait

Huey Long has been dead more than half a century, but the Louisiana legend graduated this summer from his hometown high school. The Louisiana state school board in July approved the honorary degree for the colorful former governor and U.S. senator. “The Kingfish” never completed high school or college, but he passed the state bar exam after studying for it at two law schools. He was governor from 1928-32 and was serving in the U.S. Senate in 1935 when he was assassinated in the state capitol. Senator Long’s son, former U.S. Sen. Russell Long, will accept the Winnfield High School diploma on his father’s behalf at the dedication of a political museum in Baton Rouge.

Condoms For Kids

In a move that broke new ground in school health policy, the New Haven, Conn., school board adopted a plan this summer to make condoms available to both middle and high school students through school clinics. There are roughly 50 school-based clinics nationwide that make condoms available to high school students. But New Haven, experts say, has become the first school system to offer condoms to students beginning in the 5th grade. Citing an epidemic level of human immunodeficiency virus infection among teenagers in the city, New Haven school board members reasoned that they had no choice but to make the prophylactics available under the district’s comprehensive HIV/AIDS-prevention plan. “Our schools have attempted to respond to the epidemic,” a school board statement says, “but it is clear that the enormity of this threat requires more aggressive action.”

Unsafe Settings

Many young people live in environments that fail to provide adequate support and opportunities for them to grow into healthy, productive adults. That is the conclusion of a National Research Council report, titled Losing Generations: Adolescents in High-Risk Settings. In it, the NRC says many of the institutions that adolescents traditionally rely on—such as families, neighborhoods, and schools—are “under severe stress” and often contribute to a host of adolescent problems, including delinquency, drug use, and violent crime. The deteriorating economy, coupled with the resulting lack of economic opportunity, is the primary reason for the collapse of family-support systems, the report asserts. But the authors also conclude that several school practices, including ability grouping, have a negative effect on adolescents; they encourage the use of more flexible approaches.

War On Vouchers

The leadership of the National Education Association has given its California affiliate $1 million to help fight a private school voucher initiative scheduled to appear on that state’s ballot this fall. The announcement at the union’s convention in July brought a rousing response from the California delegation. Anti-voucher fervor ran high at the meeting. T-shirts and buttons blasting private school choice were sold in the convention hall, NEA President Keith Geiger’s keynote speech was laced with anti-voucher rhetoric, and the California delegation railed against “right-wing zealots” backing the ballot measure.

Serving Time

Seven 6th graders in Columbus, Ga., who tried to injure their teacher at Georgetown Elementary School because they found her too strict were sentenced in June to 48 hours of community service each. A juvenile court judge also ordered additional counseling for the three girls and four boys who had tried to poison their teacher’s iced tea and trip her down a flight of stairs. The seven children will remain on indefinite probation.

A version of this article appeared in the September 01, 1993 edition of Teacher as Current Events